What Do I Do When My Child Is Scared?

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We sit together in the waiting room of the oral surgeon's office, my son fighting the tears forming in the corners of his eyes. 

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"Will they do anything today?"  he asks for the fifteenth time.

"I don't think so, honey.  They're just looking at your teeth today."  I sigh.  The dentist had referred us to the surgeon for a likely surgery.

"What does that IV thing feel like?  Does it hurt?"

"Bud, we already talked about this so many times.  It's not very bad."

"Did it hurt when you got one?  How old were you?"

"Buddy, remember, I had that little surgery a few months ago.  I was fine.  It just hurts a little bit.  I've done it every time I have a baby too.  I'm always ok."

Tears start flowing and he desperately wipes them away.    I rub his nine year old back.  I ask God what to do.  How do I help ease this little boy's mind?  What do I say?  Nothing has reassured him.  Not my stories of my wisdom teeth being pulled out, not my memories of the five IVs I've had during childbirth, nothing.

He is scared.

I sit in the office feeling helpless, my little boy shaking with sadness.  I have no idea what to say or do.  I rub his back.  Try to distract him with the baby babbling in his mother's lap.  Then I have a little brainstorm.  Ok, God, I'll tell him what you say.  My words aren't working at all, Yours will be better.

"Sweetie, the Bible tells us God hasn't given us a spirit of fear.  Let's look that verse up."  (One reason to be grateful for smart phones, right?).  He looks at my phone, still crying.  I read it out loud then hand him the phone.  "Now you read it."

He reads it.  "Again," I say.  He reads it again.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

I cast around in my mind for other verses on fear.  Then I do a handy search.  We find;

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.  Proverbs 18:10

I have him read it out loud two times.  He has begun calming down.

I know many mothers have dealt with heavier trials than this one, but no matter what the trial, fear is almost always hard to reason with.  If fear is something your child struggles with, whether it's an upcoming difficult event (like surgery) or nightly struggles with the dark, memorizing verses can be a great way to empower our children.

Here are a few other verses to try:

  • The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
  • The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6
  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

What are some things you've found that help your children deal with fear? 

Christy Halsell

Christy lives at the beach, loves on five children, and drives a minivan with too much sand on the floor. Homeschooling mother by day, graphic designer by night, Christy writes about letting Jesus heal the hurts of life and adds snippets on tricks she's learned about running a family of seven.